Sugar for dinner

plllog

I was going to cook beef with vegetables. Or some nice chicken. But I've been bored with making dinners. Because of a variety of issues, I haven't done any baking for the holidays. I wasn't about to make challah at dinner time, but a nice honey cake would be useful. Company is coming. Or a spice cake. I couldn't decide, so maybe a honey spice cake? I found a recipe that had it all. But then I was feeding Wubby, my whole wheat sourdough starter and barely had room in my overflow discard jar. I usually use discard for waffles, but waffles aren't really a Summer thing (yeah, I know about waffles with ice cream, but that's different waffles). My main discard jar was striated with white and whole wheat, but plenty of white. Lightbulb moment! Sourdough cake.


The last time I used sourdough discard in a cake I made the mistake of using a recipe. I don't need a recipe to bake a cake. I got the one for the honey spice cake to make sure I'd use enough spice to have the flavor come through, which is an experience kind of thing. The discard started with 70-80% hydration, but it had thrown off plenty of hooch so had less liquid than that. In fact, it was almost claylike in the lower layers. I decided to just use it one for one for the flour, but remove the water from the cup of coffee in the recipe (I used instant in the alcohol). As soon as I ran it in the mixer with the white sugar, it loosened up totally. No more clay. In the end, it seemed too wet, so I added a big scoop of white AP. I also thought that the wet batter would be better in layer pans rather than the tradition loaf or ring. That worked great, though I should have used wraps to limit doming.


The end result has sock you in the face flavor, though it's almost chocolaty tasting, rather than honey or spice. I did use mesquite honey, which is a lot stronger than clover (and what I had), and used the suggested coffee and Grand Marnier. It's not sour, but some of the intensity might be from the sourdough discard. It's really good, mind you. Just really strong.


Honey cakes aren't usually frosted, but I thought that might be a nice foil for the intense flavor, and since I had rounds anyway, why not? I put some of the raspberry jam I made for the princess cake a couple of months ago in the center, and substituted a spoon of the jam for the liquid in the decor frosting, making it pink and tasty. For the crumb coat, I used some orange juice and zest.


I should have chilled everything before trying to decorate. I'm really bad with pastry bags, and today was no exception. My first rosette was good. The rest was out of control. Doesn't matter. It tastes good. :) I'll try to get a picture tomorrow, after it's cut.


I never did make dinner, but I did eat cake scraps and frosting drips. :) We have salad and hard boiled eggs...

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Comments (16)
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colleenoz

Sounds really interesting! I can’t wait to see a picture :-)

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Martha Scott

I can't wait to see a picture either! I've never heard of sourdough in a cake, however, so I'm curious!

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plllog

Martha, there are sourdough versions of yeast rising cakes out there. I've never made a good one though.

This one was made from discard, however. What's left over when one takes a portion to feed. The sourness makes it lasts in the fridge even after the yeast is played out.. There's still some alive, but not a lot. It's mostly wet flour. There's baking powder in the cake, and soda (which reacts with the sour), for rising, as well as eggs.

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party_music50

My father used to make a butter-rum sourdough bundt cake that was fantastic! My last sourdough experiment was with gluten-free flours.... don't bother. lol!


ETA: Actually, 'sour starch' (which is fermented tapioca starch) lets you have sourdough flavor in a gluten-free world. The problem is finding a source for 'sour starch'!

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plllog

The cake was very well received. It was less intense and more honeysome after a day in the fridge. Somethng I've been working on is buttercream that doesn't melt over time. This did, but less than usual. It did melt a bit, but most of it happened as I was icing, when the kichen was too warm and I didn't take the time to chill. As I said, it looks like it was decorated by a three year old, but that's on me. The texture of the frosting was find. I probably should have added some milk to the raspberry to soften it, but the big issue was the disposable pastry bag which I just don't manage well. I know how, and usually do better than this, but I was rushing, and couldn't find bigger tips. Sigh.

it tastes really good. It's dense but with a good crumb, and quite tender. I worried the jam would disappear into the cake, but it hrld up well, and was an obvious break in taste and texture. The frosting did everything I wanted.



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bragu_DSM 5

okay, send me a piece and I'll give you a second opinion. looks very good. Oh to be a three-year-old again, knowing what I now know .... time travel. Well, I'll be in diapers again, soon enough.

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annie1992

LOL, bragu, some of us will be right there with you. (grin)

Plllog, that looks nice and moist, and how could you possibly go wrong with honey and spice and raspberry? Definitely supper for me, and maybe breakfast too!

Annie

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plllog

Thanks, Annie. Yes, the cake is nice and moist. How could it not be with all that soaked flour, sugar and honey? I was trying to figure out how to say the point of the frosting. A little was texture alternative, but that's more the jam. Most of it is flavor, the stronger orange being a counterpoint to the cake. Also, of course, to keep in the crumbs. ;)


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2ManyDiversions

bragu, post your address please. plllog, send bragu a very, very, large piece. Or pieces.

Someday I'll get around to trying to start sour dough, and I hope you'll all be there for me, giving me tips and advice : ) I know I will never be as adventurous as you, plllog! How the heck do you know how much to add, and have it come out so tasty?

Only problem is, the best sourdough starter name has been taken... I adore the name 'wubby' for your starter!

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plllog

LOL! There's no way it would have survived the mail, 2Many, so Dave will just have to make his own cake. :)

So, on adventurousness, the most important ingredient is being willing to fail. I was having a hard time when I first started with the sourdough finding a bread recipe that I wanted to use it with. Then I got into Leader's Local Breads, but that book is full of errata. Most aren't in the weights, but reading the recipes through would confuse me until I found a big list of the major errors to put into my book. About then, I found a recipe for a whole wheat no knead boule, which was just what I needed because kneading, while a big speedup for the formation of gluten also lets the bran cut the gluten strands and they don't come back so easily. Given a stable recipe, however, I learned by trial and error what worked for altering it. Some whole rye, but no more than 100g out of something like 575g total flour, gives a lot of flavor and a nice dark color. Mix-ins, like whole grains (millet, amaranth, buckwheat, etc.), seeds, and meals, again, weight limited because the gluten has to support them, were good too. This was my daily bread until I had to give up whole grains (I do hope to add them back when I can).

So, I learned a lot about what my fully fed starter can support. It was the same with the waffle recipe. I started with a recipe from a blog, and adapted it to my jar of mixed discard.

I learned to make improvisational cake from a friend when I was in my 20's. Basically, if you use the stuff you know goes into cake, and add some stuff you think will taste good in cake, and you don't forget the baking powder (it doesn't matter how much you use, really, but don't forget it if you're not making a yeast or egg rising cake), and the batter looks like cake batter and tastes like cake batter, it's cake batter, and if you bake it, it'll be cake.

The recipe I was using called for 3.5 cups of flour. It's a big recipe, meant to fill three 8" loaf pans. I figured it would be a big mess if I tried to make a starter discard cake without a based recipe, but I only had a couple of tablespoons of fresh starter. The previous few days of discard had gone in the other discard jar. So, figure it for flour only. Very wet flour. Half whole wheat, half unbleached, very wet flour in a recipe calling for dry AP (one assumes white for a cake). So, knowing that my starter wasn't as wet as it used to be, I did a rough estimate that removing one cup of water from the recipe would compensate. As I said at the top, the resulting batter was too loose, even for an oil cake, so I added some flour to make it more like the proper consistency for an oil cake batter. That's it. If it looks like cake batter and you didn't forget the leavening, it's cake batter, and when you bake it it'll be a cake.

And so it was. I probably should have added a little more baking soda or bp to compensate for the whole wheat and extra white flour, but it rose fine and it's cake. I'm not sure if the gluten that might have developed in the discard helped it to hold its structure (the weight of the honey, let alone heavy flours, will make a cake want to fall), or if it just helped make it dense.

Now if one wants a perfect cake, I have a recipe for one. Perfect crumb with perfect spring, etc. I also have recipes for specific cakes. Once, I made strawberry cake with buckwheat flour rather than wheat so it would be GF. No time to plan, just dump and bake. It was a tiny bit denser than with wheat, and a really ugly color (mauve cement, anyone?) but it tasted just fine. In making a cake one tries not to develop the gluten, so it doesn't strictly need wheat.

I'll be glad to help out when you're ready to make a starter, or I can just send you some Wubby so you can you can call it Wubby as well. :)

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2ManyDiversions

LOL! Being willing to fail... I don't mind failing as I do it often, but when cooking, what does one eat if it's an epic failure and one does not have lovely Chinese carry out available, hmmmm? : )

That's so generous of you plllog : ) I'll very likely forget half of what you wrote before I've time to try sour dough, so I hope you won't mind repeating yourself. Can one send starter through the mail and it survive? I'd love some of your Wubby - but is this the Wubby you worked so hard to start? I remember you writing about your very special starter some time ago, or I found the link somehow....

I'll be in touch when I've more time, and some knowledge under my belt on how to care and feed starter. I certainly would never want to let your Wubby go bad.

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plllog

Yes, Wubby is several years old and the outcome of my determination to start my starter from whole wheatberries just to say I did. :) It's very strong now.

Yes, one can mail starter. I've been wanting to try drying it, so this would be a great way to see if it works. If it doesn't, I'll send you wetter starter in a cool pack. :) And any time you want help with it, just ask.

Care and feeding is easy. I'll give you instructions when you're ready for a new pet.

So, on being willing to fail, you must have a bakery in town. Or a freezer. If you make or buy a nice cake or pie or similar, you're two hours away from putting dessert on the table. Now, start your willing to fail experimental baking when you will be done at least 2 hours before dinner.

For experimental cooking, make sure you have enough leftover stew for dinner, or anything that can be hot on the table in half an hour. Only experiment with one dish so you know the other ones you've planned will work out. Give yourself plenty of time to rescue a partial disaster. Like sometimes, throwing in a bunch of turmeric, or a can of diced tomatoes, or some chopped chili peppers, can pull a dish from the brink. If it's an utter failure, pull out your plan B and heat it up. Be willing to fail, yes, but don't put all your eggs in it. Worse comes to worst, you can make an omelette. :)


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lisaam

Your explanation of how to make "cake" reminds me of making cookies in small batches with no recipe when I was in college. I didn't want to eat a batch so I just made a few. They tended to turn out like cakey sugar cookies but the dose of sweet I was looking for.

Even tho I've worked as a baker, I've never not used a recipe that someone else says worked to make cake. I still find cake mysterious, and white cake (with a lovely cool texture yet moist and velvety) most mysterious and elusive of all

I'd love to spend a day with you, your starters and sprouts!

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plllog

Thank-you, Lisaam! I'm flattered and touched.

So, when I say put the stuff that goes in cake in, it does help if you know ratios. :) Even so, there are variations. AP flour is perfect for this. I think cake flour, while perfect for airy, flyaway, wispy frispy, lovely cake is fantastic, is much touchier about the ratios. AP will give you a firmer crumb, but it's more reliable. If you're after a particular texture, and certainly something as problematic as perfect white cake, definitely use a recipe (or remember it!). Improvisational baking means accepting the outcome you get, not baking to a particular target, especially a hard to achieve one.

Given that, cake is much less temperamental than cookies!

I usually use volume, because I barely even had measures when I learned, but weight is fine.

Once you have flour, sugar, fat, eggs, baking powder, you can add any old thing for flavor and interest. My friend used leftover coffee and granola from breakfast. I've done everything from mashed strawberries to a ring of jam to dates and nuts. But I have to admit, I just eyeball it. There are probably rules, but if you're not picky about the outcome, it doesn't matter. Just don't go too wet or too heavy. If it's too loose for cake batter, add flour. If it's too thick, add milk.

BTW, the time I forgot the baking powder, I was following a recipe that was going around for a jam cake. The result was delicious. The jam floated instead of sinking, so it was something like a dense blondie in texture, with jam under a thin sugary crust that was just bits of batter than didn't go through the jam with the rest, which combined with the sugar from the jam.


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nandina

When one of those days comes along when a dessert cake is needed and you would rather not mess around with flour and measuring cups...give this idea a try.

Purchase a store bought angel food cake (or make your own if you really want to bake that day) and a pint of quality chocolate ice cream.

Set the ice cream on kitchen counter until just soft enough to remove from container and place in a bowl. With a hand held electric beater quickly whip the ice cream to the consistency of frosting and quickly frost the cake with it. Place cake in freezer, uncovered until serving time. Try it. Be prepared for the surprise awaiting you and your diners upon presentation at the table.

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plllog

I like ice cream cakes, but I think for all the cleanup that involves, negating the "easy" savings, I'd just buy a complete cake, being already at the store for the cake and ice cream, let alone having to make room in the freezer.

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